OPINION – Young Black men and youth need help overcoming formidable barriers to their educational and career development. They are being rapidly left behind and left out of American mainstream economics. Statistics demonstrate that Black males are at the greatest risk of failure in the nation’s schools.

  • Black children are 15 percent of the U.S. child population, but make up 30 percent of children in foster care.
  • 75 percent of Black children grow up in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
  • Only 8 percent of 8th grade Black males attending large city schools are” proficient” in reading.
  • Nationally, Black students represent 17 percent of students and account for 30 percent of suspensions and 30 percent of expulsions; Hispanics 20 percent; Whites 15 percent.
  • Test score data from State STAR Testing reveals large achievement gaps for all Black students especially Black males.

The HAWK Institute was created to address this challenge so that this trend is not allowed to worsen and lose more generations of young Black males to prisons and poverty.

What is the HAWK Institute?

The HAWK Institute is a year-round program for young Black males designed to ensure that they prosper academically, personally, and economically. The HAWK Institute partners with others to address and, where necessary, combat the negative influences facing our young men, including drugs, gangs, underachievement in schools, communication issues with peers, parents, and other adults, poor health, and lack of self-respect. Among the HAWK goals is to keep Black young men in schools and off the streets by providing a safe environment to have healthy communication, build problem solving and planning skills, and build self-esteem so they become future leaders who are competent, caring and culturally aware of their commitment to their community.

  • The HAWK Institute is educating and mentoring young Black men about how they can improve the choices they make and the consequences of those choices by building self-respect and confidence in their ability to achieve the goals they set for themselves.
  • The HAWK Institute is building strong relationships with law enforcement, educators, business owners and entrepreneurs, and families so Black males are encouraged to make more positive choices and attain higher levels of achievement.
  • The HAWK Institute is dedicated to cultivating a talented cadre of young entrepreneurs who will ensure the legacy of generating economic wealth and prosperity for the African American community in particular, and the greater national and world economies.
  • The HAWK Institute founders make themselves available to speak to students and youth groups regarding ways in which their decisions can lead to either a more positive life or a more difficult one, emphasizing the value of continuous learning.


By Dr. Charles Ratliff

Dr. Ratliff is a former Community College Special Trustee, a former Chief Deputy Director of the California Postsecondary Education Commission, the former director of Upward Bound and EOP Programs and co-author of California’s 2002 Master Plan for Education — Pre-K to University. He currently serves as the HAWK Institute’s Vice President.